The legend of Manitowoc’s Phantom Hallow
“Phantom Hallow is reminder of primitive days” was the headline of the Manitowoc Herald News special edition for the 50th anniversary of the city in 1920. The area known as Phantom Hallow is near Manitowoc’s Evergreen Cemetery, just east of the cemetery and north of Spring Street.
The article described the area as “wild growth of brush studded here and there with the last remnants of the sturdy oak and stately pine once so plentiful here and now doomed to decay. Narrow winding pathways lead through the deep tangles of wildwood to the plateau below which here forms part of the river bottoms. One of the paths leads down to a spring of bubbling water.”
It was near this site that German Baron Carl von Brause had what he referred to as his “hunting lodge” in the 1850s. The story that has been passed down tells that the baron came to America and began his journey in New York. He was used to a high standard of living and enjoyed “the spirit of that growing metropolis and contributed vast sums to race track touts and gambling houses.” Newspapers at the time told of great cities full of culture and industry out west and the baron decided to travel.
“Arriving in Milwaukee, they set out on foot for Manitowoc”, wrote an article in the 1936 Centennial Edition of the Manitowoc Herald Times. “When they came to the ‘Little Manitowoc’ north east of the city, they decided that, in some way, they had passed the great community for which they were hunting, and they retraced their footsteps to the settlement to get their bearings. Their disappointment, when they found that the settlement through which they had passed was the “home of culture” for which they were looking, might well be imagined. However, they received such a hearty welcome that they decided to stay.”
The baron built his home on the river and soon his wife and a younger son joined him and Carl Jr. The baroness didn’t socialize much and often found herself secluded around their woodland home. “Unused to the performance of mental tasks, she passed the time with music and drawing – highly accomplished in the latter art – and probably dreaming of the gayeties and splendor of the past when she was a favorite member of the household of some royal court (1936 Centennial Edition).”
It was rumored that after her death, "a figure in white had nightly been seen hovering about her former abode, and that sweet strains of music had softly floated from there, borne of the midnight air. However that may be, certain it is that this spot ever held something for mystic for the passerby, especially in the sway of the moon when rising vapors from the river bottoms, assuming fantastic forms, lent flights to one’s imagination.”
“Hence the derivation of the name, that of Phantom Hallow.”